Friday, November 14, 2008

Here, There, Aransas Pass, Here and There Again

Our patio is now furnished! We are on the lookout now for art and textiles to finish it off. The orchid is a cymbidium that we purchased at Costco in February. It was in bloom when we bought it and this is the first time it has bloomed since. Isn't it lovely?
October 13 - Back in San Antonio, this time for the installation of my crown and for Stanley to see the doctor about some nagging arm pain that has been going on for several weeks and getting worse. The doctor drew a quart of blood and told us that he would get back to us with the results and a plan of action.

October 18 - Still no word from the doctor so we decided to check out Aransas Pass and the Great Birding Trail on our way back to Mexico. We will be close enough to San Antonio to get back quickly if we need to. If there is no need to hurry back, we will be on our way home. Seeing Aransas Pass will be a bonus.

We enjoyed the trip. We didn't see as many birds as we thought we might, but we will certainly go back - probably at a time later in the winter, December or January.

October 22 - We finally talked to the doctor. All lab results were fine. We made an appointment with a specialist for November 21. We are on our way to Perote.

October 29 - We went to Torreon to take care of our immigration papers, a chore that has to be done every year at this time.

October 31 - We racked all 2008 red wine making no additional adjustments to acid. We added potassium metabisulphate according to directions. The samples had great taste and fabulous color. The pressed wine was more interesting than the free run.The 2008 white wine is still in the refrigerator. It is beginning to clear.

November 4 - We have a new president. It is exciting to think about the challenges he faces and the many opportunities we all have to help make his presidency successful.
November 6 - I learned that Mrs. Lowrance, my children's paternal grandmother, passed away last night. She was a very important figure for the kids when they were growing up. We will all miss her.

November 11 - Solo Vino went to the vet this morning. He has an infected foot. He did not like being left there at all and he was very glad to see us that afternoon. I am so lucky to have a good vet who is so patient with me. He really tries to explain things in my kind of Spanish so that I understand. He is also willing to make house calls. Wow!

November 12 & 13 - The vet came both days to clean Solo Vino's foot and change the dressing. It is almost well.

November 14 - We will be leaving for San Antonio in a few days. We are looking forward to seeing Stanley's specialist, my brother's wedding and Thanksgiving with the family.

As I write this we are already beginning to shut down our home here. By now we have this down to a science. Some things we leave out and some things are tucked away. The plants on the patio are moved to the bodega. The garden plants get extra water. The refrigerator gets cleaned. Laundrey gets done. Clothes are packed. Solo Vino's food is moved to the bodega. Security doors are closed and locked. Drapes are pulled. Off we go!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Long Road Home

September 9 - We drove to Tok. I've made that trip many times and never has it been more beautiful that it was on that foggy day. The mountains were shrouded, but the fall foliage was spectacular! A night at the Snowshoe Hotel.

September 10- More beautiful scenery. The light was so bad that my pictures don't begin represent what we actually saw. Try to imagine gold leaves as far as you can see with a carpet of green, gold, and a thousand shades of red. We drove to Haines Junction and stayed at the Alcan Hotel. Here is a sample of roadside vistas between Glennallen and Haines.

September 11 - Off to Haines. We arrived in plenty of time to get our tickets and have lunch before boarding the ferry at 2:30pm.

The weather for the ferry ride was typical inland passage weather - foggy, cloudy and rainy, but the trip was lovely. We met several nice folks and we read. We arrived in Kethican just in time for dinner at The Landing, right on the dock. One of the cooks was a dead ringer for the Chinese guy on Deadwoood.

We arrived at Prince Rupert the next morning at 5:45 and drove until about 4:00 that afternoon. We stopped at a little mom & pop motel south of Prince George. We went to a pub down the road for supper. What fun! However, by this time, I had to face the truth - the tooth ache that I had been nursing for several days was NOT going away. It was only going to get worse.

September 14 - We drove to Peachland on Lake Okanagan and looked for a place to stay, but everything was either full or closed so we moved on to Summerland. Note to visitors to the area: There are very few options in Peachland. It's beautiful, but not hospitable to the casual visitor. Summerland, on the other hand, was full of motels and interesting pubs. We got settled in and chose the Parrot Perch for supper.

September 15 - We did a very brief tour of some of the area's wineries. The view was better than the wine, but even at that the wine was pretty good. My tooth hurt so bad that I was pretty much intent on getting to Jim and Rori's house where I was pretty sure I was going to find relief.
By the time we finally arrived at their house that afternoon, I was in PAIN! Those of you who know me know that I don't handle pain very well under any circumstances and when it involves a tooth, I'm a bigger baby than usual. Jim had already made an appointment with a local dentist for Tuesday afternoon, but I was on the phone with the receptionist early Tuesday morning and she told me I could come in right away. Those were the sweetest words I had heard in a long, long time. Three hours later, I was much better. The dentist had done a root canal with immediate results and I had a bottle of Tylenol for residual pain and a prescription for antibiotics to take care of the raging infection I had. Within just a few days, I was back to normal.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Jim's sister and her husband and we all spent the next few days enjoying this beautiful home in this lovely setting with fantastic weather. We worked on jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles, cooked some great meals, took walks, enjoyed Rori's animals, read and recovered from my dental trauma.
On Friday night we added another couple to our mix, friends of the Drapers. Maureen had just returned from a cooking class in France so Rori, Kate and I couldn't get enough of her. I even had to change places at the dinner table so that I could hear better. After dinner, we went dancing at the Eagles Club. The band was just a couple playing guitars and taking turns with the lyrics, but they made some pretty good sound and we enjoyed it.
September 20 - Just before we left, I had Kate snap this picture. If you are ever in Washington State and you need a dentist, call Jim. He'll fix you up! I can't thank Jim and Rori enough! What a wonderful visit.

We drove to Spokane and then on to Missoula through the Nine Mile Ranger Station where Stanley had spent a summer back in the day. Much to his chagrin, he learned that it has become a national historic site.

We spent the night in Darby MT in another mom and pop motel and feasted on a bag of stuff I had bought at a health food deli that afternoon.
September 21 - We drove past Sun Valley to Haily ID and stayed at The Featherbed Inn B&B. On the way we drove through some beautiful scenery and stopped at another historic site with special significance for Stanley. We also found a delightful park in Salmon ID dedicated to one of my favorite figures in history, Sacajawea.

September 22 - We backtracked to Sun Valley to se the lodge, the town and the Hemmingway Memorial. Right across the street from the bank was another statue of Sacajawea. She was all over the place.
Actually, I was a bit disappointed in the lodge and the town. Even on a warm fall day with not a drop of snow on the ground, the place was crawling with tourists. Back to Hailey. We stopped at the botanical garden. I took several pictures, but this was the only one that is presentable. I must have had the camera on some weird setting. Have I reminded you lately that I am challenged in the technology department.

We drove on to Ely NV and spent the night in yet another little motel. We took a long walk through Ely. Interesting place. Pretty little park. A casino on every corner and a girlie place between every two casinos. Not really my kind of place.

September 23 - What a day! We drove to Zion National Park via Cedar City. This was our first visit to Zion. I am so glad we went. It is an incredible place!

There was quite a debate between us about taking a bus tour through Zion, but in the end we decided to push on. After a look at the map, we came up with a plan. We would drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and with any luck we could find a room at the lodge in the park. Off we went . . .
The drive was wonderful, the view was - well, what can I say? it's the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Let's just say it was grand. However the lodge was full to the brim so we snapped a couple of pictures, took a walk and got back in the car planning to stay in Fredona or Kabab. We stopped at a lodge on the way back for dinner - no hurry. There were deer on the road so we just took our time and enjoyed the drive.

Well, we got back to Fredona - every motel had a no vacancy sign, but that didn't bother us because we didn't see any place that we really wanted to stay. So we drove on to Kabab. There were lots of motels - lots of them! And everyone of them had a no vacancy sign. At the very last one, on the edge of town, the gal at Quality Inn tells me that she can make a reservation for us in Hurricane - miles in the wrong direction. The only other possibility would be to drive to Flagstaff, four hours away.
I went out to confer with Stanley about our predicament and we decided to take her up on the Hurricane reservation. When I went back inside to confirm the deal, the desk clerk told me that she had had a cancellation. I haven't moved so fast in years. It took me less than a nanosecond to say yes, sign the paper and hand over my credit card. I've never been so grateful for a room. Note to self: When traveling in an area with a dominant national park, make the reservation early! Here is a photo of the fountain outside the hotel. I thought it was beautiful.

The next morning we drove east along the Vermilion Cliffs through the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument stopping at the BLM interpretation center featuring the many dinosaur finds in the area. I can't believe that I walked away with no pictures because it was very interesting. On to Hoover Dam and Lake Powell.

And on to Flagstaff. We found Sean easily. We had a nice walk around town, a proper Italian dinner, an introduction to his room mates, and a tour of his crib. He had homework and we were exhausted so we turned in early.
September 25 - We walked all over the University of Arizona campus. The old part of the campus is quite lovely. We found one building that we liked in particular.

From the university we went south to Sedona along ALT 89. I had seen many pictures of the area, but I never realized just how impressive those red rocks could be.

We drove on to Prescott and stayed at the Mariott Springfield Suites. A classy choice for a change.

September 26 - We drove to Tucson for a few days at Mira Vista, one of our favorite haunts. As always, we enjoyed the atmosphere, the pool, dancing at the Maverick, good meals and Stanley especially appreciated a few days without driving.

September 29 - We left Tucson and drove to Ruidoso NM taking time for a quick tour of White Sands National Monument.

And then to Alpine for a visit with Panchi and her family. Panchi is enjoying her new position as Alpine Middle School principal and she and Russell are busy balancing careers and parenthood. The girls are involved in sports, music, and a never-ending social life.
October 1 - On to San Antonio for a few days with Mom, Trey, and Sarah and her family. Of course Mom is still busy with her many senior center activities, her church, and a wide and varied group of friends. Trey is working for the Northside School District and hopes to turn his assistant position into a full fledged teaching position soon. Sarah is still teaching severly emotionally disturbed children. David is trying to balance a fledgling business and the care and feeding of Grayson. Now, that's a real job!
October 2 - I had an 8:30am appointment with Dr. Cabaza to be fitted for a crown for the root canal tooth.
And that brings our long road home to an end. If I hadn't had so many other opportunities for travel, this would have been the trip of a lifetime. As it was, I saw so many beautiful things! I am reminded of how precious our earth is and how important it is to care for it.
The only criteria for finding beauty is looking for it. It's everywhere!

Off to Alaska AGAIN!

Something told us that now was as good a time as ever to use our Frequent Flyer Miles with Alaska Airline so we invested a chunk of them in the purchase of two one-way, first class tickets to Anchorage. Flying first class ain't what it used to be, but it sure beats making that long trip crammed into coach!

September 4 - John McCain had just announced his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate and the flight attendants all had an opinion that just wouldn't keep. They were all atwitter! We arrived at Anchorage airport late that evening and Kay (bless her heart) came into town to pick us up. We enjoyed our visit with her on the way to Palmer.

Brian, the new owner of our old house, had insisted that we stay with him. So, there we were sleeping in our old bed, fixing breakfast in our old kitchen and looking out at our old gardens. It occured to me that we hadn't stayed away long enough for anything to change. Brian was off working during most of our visit so it was almost like old times.

September 5 - We took everything out of the shed, sorted, and packed boxes.

September 6 - We spent most of the day with Donna. The memorial service for John was held that afternoon in the backyard of the lovely home they shared so many years. Against a backdrop of mountains, we took turns on that cool Alaskan afternoon trying to express what John had meant to each of us. In addition to all those who were there in person, Donna had a rather impressive stack of letters and notes from people who could not be there.

There was an opportunity for everyone to visit and share stories about John, a tree planting and the spreading of ashes, the ritual eating/drinking opportunity, and more visiting and sharing.

John, you are missed. It's hard to believe that it was a year ago today that you left us.
Donna, we think of you every day and wish for you only good things!

September 7 - More sorting. More packing. Yuck! We had a nice visit with Jesse in the afternoon. He had been temporarily assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage and was staying with his mom for a few weeks. He was so busy that this was the only time we had to see him.

September 8- We took the blue jeep into the shop for a once-over before starting down the Alaska Highway. Coffee with Kathleen while we waited. Back to the house for a final loading of the car. Dinner with Donna.

September 9 - No gory details about any pain involved in driving away this time. It was much easier. The decision had been made. We were ready. I made some pictures of my favorite late bloomers just before we left.

Not to worry! We'll be back!

August 27 - Stanley's Birthday

We drove from Parras to Monterrey, left the car at the airport, and flew to San Jose del Cabo, checked into our hotel and did NOTHING for six days. We checked any troubles, stress, worries, concerns, anxieties and negative thoughts at the door.

The hotel, an all inclusive, couples only operation, was beautifully appointed; the pool was fantastic; the beach was clean; the food was great; the service was impeccable. We heard a month later that it had closed. Oh, well . . .